The year 2049: where will we be? Nick Lazaridis, President (EMEA) – HP Inc
Trying to predict what our world will look like in 30 years’ time is always a fascinating prospect, especially for those of us working in the technology sector. No one can know for sure, and of course that’s part of the excitement. What we do know is that at this moment a series of demographic, socioeconomic, and technological trends are already in motion at a global level. These megatrends are what will determine where we are as a society in the year 2049 and here’s what they are telling us… ECONOMIES ARE CHANGING Currently people are rapidly relocating to urban centres, which is in turn driving economic growth and raising household incomes, and spending, on average. This applies to every major city across the globe, in both developed and emerging markets, to the extent that the economies of increasingly more single cities are now surpassing those of entire countries. In fact, the top 100 cities globally are generating nearly 40% of global GDP – a staggering amount which is testament to urbanization in practice.
From London to Berlin, and Madrid to Oslo, Europe is firmly at the helm of this concentration of talent and growth. NEW ROLES ARE YET TO BE CREATED This kind of exponential economic growth is reliant on a constant supply of skilled labour; but globally, there will be a shortage of 85 million high-skilled workers by 2030, with some countries facing a gap of more than 25%. There are two clear steps to be taken here to future-proof businesses.
First, we’ll witness businesses undertaking a dramatic retraining of their workforces – for which there is a clear appetite from employees – equipping them with the required skillsets for jobs that do not yet exist. Second, we’ll see automation bridging the skills gap as smart machines become ever more able to collect data, learn from it, and respond. The latter already exists in virtually every sector: from power generators and manufacturing robots, to smart speakers and autonomous vehicles, each one of these machines relies on the same basic concept: sensors and data. A natural question is what the role of humans will be if automation takes on a more significant role.
My view is that there will always be an irreplaceable “humanity” to the human workforce, and in fact, according to a recent study by Goldsmiths, University of London, automation technology is actually making work more ‘human’ by freeing people from administrative processes and moving them towards higher-value work. Page 2 of 3 ENERGY NEEDS TO BE SUSTAINABLE It’s clear that with incomes and job numbers rising, our energy usage is also going to dramatically increase, and if that energy comes from conventional sources such as oil and gas, higher emissions will follow. This energy demand doesn’t just come from the number of devices a business uses, but from the data these devices collect, and by 2025 the energy cost of transmitting data from the ‘edge’ to the cloud will be unsustainable without additional energy supplies which can only come from sustainable sources.
What I take from that is simple: it doesn’t matter if you’re an SME or a multinational, we all need to rapidly appreciate the importance of renewable sources which are more efficient, circular, and low-carbon. At HP, we’ve recycled over 271,400 tonnes of hardware and supplies since 2016, and are aiming for 1.2 million tonnes by 2025. It will always be a work in progress, and we can never stop striving for better. There is no reason why a business cannot embrace both sustainability across the entire supply chain, and support the communities it serves. By adopting a circular economy business model and embracing a culture of repairing, reusing, and recycling, as opposed to manufacturing and disposing, new jobs and opportunities can be created whilst also helping the environment. It makes perfect business sense too. We’ve seen a 38% increase in business opportunities where sustainability was a mandatory requirement – and we expect that to grow as consumer and business expectations increase. Companies and customers want to buy goods and services from entities that they trust to do the right thing for the environment, for their employees, and create a positive impact in their communities. CREATING THE FUTURE TODAY Technology provides limitless opportunity for the future of our planet by providing new solutions and new ways of doing things. This will certainly shape our world from 2019 through 2049. However, it is vital the next thirty years are guided by the overarching principles of acting sustainably for the benefit of our planet, people, and communities, as well as in the training and re-training of millions of workers around the world. If businesses and consumers come together and work under these principles, then we have much to look forward to in 2049.